An Overview of Personal Injury Cases Involving Dog Bites in Arizona
In 2021, insurance companies paid $882 million as compensation for dog-related injury liability claims. This statistic goes to show that dog bites and attacks often result in serious injuries, and recovering from such ailments can be expensive.
While the thought of being attacked by a dog is unnerving, it is helpful to understand how the personal injury process works in these instances. Legislation varies from state to state, so this article will cover Arizona's dog bite law, as well as provide information about what to do in such situations.
If you've experienced a dog bite yourself or would like to learn more about personal injury cases involving dog bites in Arizona, contact Glazer Hammond PLLC for guidance about your potential claim.
Dog Bite Law in Arizona
In the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.), section (§) 11-1025 discusses dog bites specifically. The statute states that if a dog bites an individual in a public location or an individual that is lawfully in or on a private location, the dog's owner is liable for the damages the victim incurs from the incident. Furthermore, the owner is liable regardless of the dog's history of violent or harmful behavior.
In other words, for a dog bite victim to prove liability, they must prove who is the “dog owner”, demonstrate that their injury was directly caused by the dog bite, and prove that the bite was suffered while they were in a public setting or legally on private property. Victims may also have to show that the dog was not provoked.
Injuries Caused by a Dog When it is “At Large”
Another Arizona statute pertains to injuries that a dog “at large” can potentially cause. “At large” in this instance is defined as a canine that is not held inside an enclosure or controlled by a leash. A.R.S. §11-1020 discusses how the owner or person in charge of the animal is responsible for any injuries or damage the dog causes while at large. For example, if a dog at large runs into an individual and knocks them down causing a broken hip, or runs into the street and causes a car accident, the owner of the dog is responsible for all damages stemming from their dog's behavior.
Arizona is a “Strict Liability” State: What Does This Mean?
Dog bite liability laws are not uniform across the United States. In this instance, Arizona is a strict liability state, which means that dog owners are required to pay for all damages related to a dog bite even if the dog does not have a history of violence. The same is true if injuries are caused when the dog is at-large. In both cases, the victim in a personal injury case needs to establish who the “owner” of the dog was at the time of the incident. A.R.S. § 11-1001(10) describes the “owner” as an individual who cares for the dog for more than six consecutive days.
Other states follow a “one-bite rule”, which means liability is determined by negligence. In these states, a dog owner only has to pay damages for dog bite injuries if a victim can prove that the dog had a history of biting or that the dog's owner was aware of their dog's aggressiveness.
What Is the Timeframe for Taking Legal Action on a Dog Bite or Dog At Large Case?
In Arizona, dog bite victims generally have only one year from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit for damages under Arizona's strict liability laws. However, it is best to consult with a personal injury attorney without delay to determine the timeframe for your specific case, as some circumstances can alter such deadlines.
Steps to Take if You've Been Bitten by a Dog in Arizona
Suffering an attack by a dog can be scary and unnerving all at once. It may be difficult to think clearly at the time, however, building a strong personal injury case begins right after the accident. If you are able, there are some helpful steps one can take to calmly manage the situation and strengthen any future liability claims.
- Check-in with yourself and assess your injuries. All ailments that result from a dog bite should be tended to by a medical professional, so be sure to seek treatment as soon as possible. Dog bite wounds can become infected and scar easily, so be sure to prioritize your health and safety
- See that you follow medical advice and complete all treatment plans. Insurance companies will take note of delaying medical treatment or any disobedience of doctor orders. To get the most compensation for your injuries, be sure to follow medical guidance closely
- Ensure that the incident is reported to the proper authorities. In Northern Arizona, dog bite reports need to be made with the Coconino County Health and Human Services Animal Management. Having an official account of what happened is useful evidence. Additionally, safety measures must be taken to protect the public after such an event
- Take pictures of the incident. Photos of the scene, your wounds, your clothes, and the dog are all helpful to prove liability. Using pictures to document your injuries throughout time is useful as well. Be sure to capture any bruising, puncture wounds, or bleeding
- Get the dog owner's information. Ensure that you can contact them in the future by taking down their name, phone number, address, and homeowner's insurance information. Obtain the dog's medical documentation to confirm its vaccination background
- Identify any witnesses that saw the attack. Be sure to get their contact information, as their account of events may be useful in your claim
- Gather and keep track of all documentation. Medical bills, medical documents, incident reports, pictures, and proof of any other economic costs associated with the injury can be used as evidence in your claim
- Consult with an attorney as soon as you can. By hiring legal counsel soon after the incident, you can ensure that your case is as strong as possible. The right attorney will examine your unique circumstances and identify all the steps that need to be taken
What Damages Can I Pursue Compensation For?
The amount of compensation you can receive from a potential dog bite lawsuit depends on the unique circumstances of your situation. The goal of your claim is to cover all expenses associated with the injuries you incurred from the bite. This means pursuing compensation for economic and non-economic damages by considering the following:
- What type of injury you suffered, its location on the body, and its severity
- If your injury has lasting impairments
- All medical expenses paid to treat the injury, including future expenses
- All therapy expenses required to recover from the incident
- All pain and suffering derived from the experience, both physical and emotional
- All lost wages if you were forced to take time away from work to recover
Northern Arizona Personal Injury Representation
Personal injury claims exist to protect victims of accidents, including dog bite victims. However, the legal process and be confusing and difficult to navigate. Finding the representation that fits your needs reduces legal stress and allows dog bite victims to focus on healing.
Glazer, Hammond & Ruben, PLLC is a law firm dedicated to excellent legal counsel. Attorney Keith Hammond has the experience and reputation to make your personal injury claim as strong as possible. Schedule a consultation with Glazer, Hammond & Ruben, today and get your case off the ground.